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This article was published on June 27, 2017

Our search experience is changing, here’s where one CEO sees it going

Our search experience is changing, here’s where one CEO sees it going Image by: Unsplash
Josiah Motley

Barring any major shakeups to our current internet due to net neutrality laws, internet search is continuing to evolve and change in ways that help the end user, as well as the companies providing the search functionality. Data consumption and gathering is at an all-time high and today’s modern search engine wants to consume it all in an effort to better lead you to your search goals and connect you with the brands you might have. Yes, there will be people that have issues with the amount of data being collected, but this is honestly just how it is now, data is going to be collected regardless, so it might as well help us out.

This data is coming from sources never before imagined. Take the Internet of Things, for example. This ever-growing web of stuff that is connected to the internet is more than just a convenient way to wash your clothes and brew your coffee, it’s data – data that can be processed, analyzed, and served back to you in ways you never would have connected. This is in part thanks to the leaps we’re seeing in artificial intelligence and where search is ultimately heading – conversational interfaces. Services like Apple’s Siri are a good example, but they are just starting to scratch the surface of what is possible.

I spoke with Nicolas Dessaigne, CEO of Algolia a bit about the future of search and conversational UI to get a glimpse of the world of search from an insider’s perspective. Algolia is a search-as-a-service provider that focuses on building a better search platform that can be implemented almost anywhere. Check out the interview below!

Nicolas Dessaigne

So, where does the future of search go from here? Are you going to help lead that charge?

Search is a conversation you have with your users, and the future of search is conversational UI. Not just using your voice as an input, but having a real, fluid conversation. We are already at work to make that a reality.

Is there anything that search engines (any of them, yours included), could really improve upon?

Putting aside big shifts like moving towards conversational interfaces, most improvements are incremental and happen every day. As a hosted search API, we have the benefit of being able to provide every one of our users with the result of every improvement we make. It’s what makes Algolia so successful. We are constantly pushing the engine further to provide advanced capabilities like personalization and offline search on mobile.

Is there a feature you would like to see from the search engine of the future that just currently isn’t possible due to tech limitations?

Conversational UI – that is, chatbots & voice search – is the future of search. The reason is simple: search is a conversation between your users & your product, and the more natural the conversation, the better the experience. Search & conversation rely on the same mechanics to be successful – speed, relevance, and experience. Much like Consumer-Grade Search, Conversational UI is reserved for the few who can afford to invest in it; just as Algolia has brought consumer-grade search to the masses, we would like to see conversational UI brought to everyone.

Credit: Unsplash
I’m just waiting for AI to be personified through the use of cute robots tbh

We rounded out the interview with a question that wasn’t really intended to be about search, but the answer ended up being surprisingly relevant.  Nicolas stated, “We actually don’t see ourselves as French nor American, but as a global company with a unique culture across offices. Our French origins helped us think globally from day one. Having multiple offices early on was a challenge but has become an advantage as it is now helping us to scale faster globally.”

By having a global view of culture early on, Algolia is able to look at search in a much broader range than other search companies that do not have that same global reach – giving them the ability to analyze how people across multiple countries and locations are using search to accomplish tasks that range from simple to complex and, in turn, offer a more comprehensive search experience through organic observation and data analysis. This type of forward thinking and immersion will be necessary as search continues to grow and transform.

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